It's a rite of passage for most 8th graders: the annual field trip to Washington, DC. But this year, 71 Brooks Middle School students may have an experience unlike students in years' past if the government shutdown continues through next weekend.
The Oak Park Elementary School District 97 Board of Education on Saturday approved out-of-state field trip requests for the year, including the Oct. 12-14 8th grade trip to DC.
All national parks, national monuments and wildlife refuges are closed due to the shutdown, meaning Brooks trip organizers may need a backup plan to replace their monument- and museum-filled itinerary.
Right now, the students are scheduled to visit the White House, the World War II Memorial, the U.S. Capitol Building, and the U.S. Holocaust Museum, the Iwo Jima Memorial, the Pentagon Memorial, the National Archives, the Lincoln Memorial, Korean Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Einstein Statue, Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial, FDR Memorial, Mount Vernon Estate and Smithsonian Institute Museums, District 97 spokesman Chris Jasculca said Thursday.
The military-operated Arlington National Cemetery remains open, though the cemetery's historic Arlington House is closed, according to the Washington Post.
The Post published an overview of DC attractions yesterday that aren't run by the government, including the Spy Museum, the National Crime Museum, the Newseum, National Building Museum and the National Geographic Museum. Unlike the free public museums and landmarks, however, these attractions come with a price tag.Jasculca said trip organizers are working with their travel agency to figure out alternative activities for the students if the shutdown continues through next weekend. He said the organizers are also working with the Department of Tourism for Washington, DC, to make plans for the trip.
The National Park Service made a special exception to the closure of the World War II memorial earlier this week, when groups of veterans on "honor flights" arrived in Washington, DC, ABC News reported Wednesday.
With help from members of Congress, hundreds of veterans passed the blockade to enter the World War II memorial, according to ABC. Sen. Mark Kirk accompanied a group of vets from Chicago on Wednesday and tweeted, "The partisan divide shouldn't ruin their visit."
While the parks and tourist spots are down, essential services, such as writing Social Security and unemployment checks, patrolling the border and maintaining airport security will continue, according to the Chicago Tribune. Mail delivery will also continue, since U.S. Postal Service employees are exempt from furloughs. Members of Congress will still get paid, too.